Posts

Int’l tribunal on Duterte’s ‘gross violations’ underway in Belgium

An international people’s tribunal goes underway in Brussels, Belgium to hear complaints of human rights violations against the Rodrigo Duterte government.

In a statement, the spokespersons for the International Peoples’ Tribunal (IPT) said they take cognizance of the complaints filed by the victims and experts on the various violations of the rights of the allegedly perpetrated by Duterte of the Philippines and even Donald John Trump of the United States of America.

Based on the complaints, the IPT said Presidents Duterte and Trump are being indicted for gross violations of civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as national sovereignty, development, and International Humanitarian Law.

The Tribunal said it has summoned “defendants” Duterte and Trump on September 10, 2018.

“Unfortunately, we have yet to receive any formal response to the summons,” the IPT said through its spokespersons Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and Peter Murphy, Chairperson, Global Council, International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines.

In reply, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters that the government will not respond to the summons, adding the Tribunal is “a sham proceeding” intended “for propaganda purposes.”

“Because that’s not the official proceeding. That’s a propaganda proceeding of the Left,” Roque said.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes, an IPT participant, however said charges being raised before the tribunal are “very real.”

“These are not false charges like the ones government uses against its critics. The process is also fair as the Philippine government was duly notified through the US embassy in Washington,” Reyes said.

He explained the the results of the tribunal shall be transmitted to different international bodies including the International Criminal Court, the European Parliament, the United Nations, and others.

“Rather than disparage the Tribunal, the Duterte regime should listen to the charges raised by the victims,” Reyes said.

(A live video of the proceedings may be viewed here.)

Aside from Reyes, victims of human rights violations, their families, as well as leading activists travelled to Belgium to serve as witnesses and complainants.

They include Karapatan’s Cristina Palabay, Piston’s George San Mateo, Sandugo’s Amirah Alih Lidasan, and others.

Other complainants and witnesses, meanwhile, have submitted video depositions because of their inability to travel to Belgium.

Legal experts from the Philippines and abroad also attended the Tribunal to act as prosecutors and facilitators.

They include former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares and National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer president Edre Olalia, as well as peoples’ lawyers Kathy Panguban and Ephraim Cortez.

People’s tribunals on the state of human rights in the Philippines have been held in Europe and United States of America in the past against the Ferdinand Marcos, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno Simeon Aquino administrations, all of which found were found guilty.

This year’s IPT is the earliest held against a sitting president, owing mostly to the Duterte government’s two-year drug war that has been reported to have killed more than 20,000 victims.

Although not a formal legal proceeding, people’s tribunal are seen by local and international human rights groups to be important events that highlight grave human rights situations in the Philippines.

The IPT held against Marcos was seen to have contributed to his downfall in 1986 after its informed a great part of the world of his regime’s human rights violations.

The spokespersons said that the IPT panel of Jurors, as in the past, are all “experts and eminent individuals…of proven competence, integrity, probity and objectivity, and experienced on issues on human rights, rights of peoples, and international humanitarian law.”

The IPT said it will hear testimonies and receive evidence from the witnesses for the prosecution and the defense.

“Barring any untoward incident, the Jurors shall deliberate over and deliver the verdict of the Tribunal in the afternoon of September 19, Brussels time (Thursday evening in the Philippines).

“We are well aware of the gravity of the cases and the urgent cry for justice from the victims, survivors and the entire Filipino people. Rest assured that the Tribunal will be fair and just, and will be partial only to the Truth,” the IPT said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lawyers hold rally vs Sereno ouster

Lawyers held a rally in front of the Supreme Court Tuesday to protest the May 11 decision of the majority of its magistrates to oust Ma. Lourdes Sereno as chief justice.

Dissenting with the decision, lawyers led by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said Sereno’s ouster through the quo warranto petition is unconstitutional.

In a statement, NUPL said the “erroneous” and “shortcut” petition has far reaching effects as it slays judicial independence.

“Our democracy is in peril. Monopoly of power in the Executive without checks and balance is practically complete,” the NUPL said.

Performance artist Mae Paner dramatizes what lawyers says is the death of judicial independence with the ouster of Ma Lourdes Sereno as chief justice through a quo warranto petition. (Photo by Sarah Jane Mendoza Aguilar/Kodao)

The group earlier said Sereno should have been subjected to an impeachment trial in the Senate as an impeachable official, blaming the Rodrigo Duterte government for the chief magistrate’s ouster.

“Dissent even in traditional forms are shot down. Those who stand in the way of government policy and fancy are waylaid,” NUPL said.

The NUPL said it is its duty to protect the rule of law and has thus decided to organize the nationally coordinated  protest actions.

“Our reason for being is put to question. We are being forced to relearn or unlearn what we studied or taught in law school. The Decision revolts against norms we hold dear,” it said.

Wearing court attires, the lawyers also wore black ribbons as a sign of protest and pleading. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

SC has fallen, lawyers’ group says after Sereno’s ouster

Human rights lawyers said Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno’s ouster means the Supreme Court (SC) has surrendered its independence to political pressures.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) called the SC decision granting the Quo Warranto petition against Sereno as “deplorable, contemptuous and a contortion of the Constitution.”

Eight SC associate justices voted to grant the Quo Warranto petition Friday morning, saying Sereno became chief magistrate on the basis on an invalid appointment.

Associate Justices Teresita De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr and Alexander Gesmundo voted in the affirmative.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco, Mariano Del Castillo, Estela Perlas Bernabe, Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguioa voted against.

The NUPL however said the decision was dishonorable and is a red carpet for dictatorial rule by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Earlier, the NUPL said the Quo Warranto petition filed by the Office of the Solicitor General set “a very dangerous and ruinous precedent that can even be used against any impeachable officer, including other justices of the Supreme Court who go against the wishes of and in the crosshairs of the administration or interest groups.”

In its reaction to the decision Friday, the lawyers’ group said granting the Quo Warranto petition does not affect the Chief Justice alone.

“It primarily affects the entire nation as the Supreme Court literally sprawled the red carpet for dictatorial rule,” the NUPL in a statement said.

The NUPL called on judges and lawyers nationwide to step-up protests against “the breakdown of the so-called rule of law and the erosion of judicial independence.”

The group said it is planning and calling for nationwide simultaneous forms of protest against the SC decision to oust CJ Sereno on Tuesday, May 15.

Possible actions include wearing of black pins or armbands, court hearing holiday, picket at the SC and other courts, and legal fora and press conferences, the group said.

“Today is yet again not another good day to be a lawyer. But we will fight and hold fast. The people we serve deserve no less,” the NUPL said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Being a lawyer at a turbulent crossroads

‘Redeem what has been lost, repair what has been cracked, and reform what needs to be changed. Lawyer for the people.’

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) heartily congratulates all those who passed the 2017 bar examinations. In the same vein, we also send our sincerest felicitations to those who did not find their names on the list this time. To have hurdled the four gruelling bar Sundays is an achievement in itself.

By this time, especially highlighted with the recent events in our country, we have validated that one’s performance in the bar examinations is never an accurate measure or guarantee of one’s competence to become a lawyer, much less one’s capacity to put into practice the oath that we swore to uphold: to do and uphold justice.

The entire legal system is again now under even more vicious attack. There is an attempt to cripple and hold hostage the country’s entire judicial system. There are continuing direct assaults against judicial independence. Infighting and self-interests are dressed up as principled non-partisan positions. There is an even more intense erosion of people’s trust in the credibility and integrity of the justice system.

Many of these oddities are perpetrated no less than members of the legal profession themselves who have allowed themselves to break and corrupt their oaths to be dispensers of justice by being instruments of the creeping and impending tyrannical rule in the country.

Institutions are under siege, either through brazen threats or insidious manipulation. Legal shortcuts are the rule rather than the exception in fighting crime and in law enforcement. Borderless basic human rights of free expression, free press, and assembly, nay expressions of humanity, are curtailed. International legal norms are scoffed at. Legal remedies are twisted and legal fora are used to persecute those who defy and refuse to toe the anti-people line.

Ambulance-chasers and pretentious legal toads or clowns prancing like invincible erudite authorities or shameless scumbags test our fortitude if not our capacities to suspend disbelief. Facts are replaced by alternative truths and fake news are peddled as the new normal.

Shall we just look the other way and turn blind to reality, content with dealing with our respective devices?

We shall not. All is not lost. Reason, fairness, common sense, honor, truth, dignity and justice must be reclaimed.

As lawyers, we are duty bound, under oath, to be dispensers of justice and as Filipinos, we are morally and historically bound to struggle and protect our freedom and dignity as a people and as a nation.

We therefore call on our present and new pañeros and pañeras to join the ranks of peoples’ lawyers and to unite with the Filipino people in the continuing fight for freedom and democracy.

Redeem what has been lost, repair what has been cracked, and reform what needs to be changed. Lawyer for the people. #

 

Edre U. Olalia, NUPL President

Ephraim B. Cortez NUPL Secretary General ‭

Suspected AFP and PNP agents harass human rights lawyer

A lawyers’ group condemned the harassment of one of its members by suspected Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel in Caloocan City yesterday.

In a statement, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said Atty. V.J. Topacio was tailgated by a white Toyota Revo vehicle and a motorcycle from a hearing at the Caloocan City Prosecutor’s Office where he represented Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Metro Manila campaign officer Ferdinand Castillo.

Read more

Lawyers present six reasons why political prisoners must be freed

People’s lawyers held a press conference at Mendiola this morning and cited six reasons for the immediate release of all political prisoners.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) joined human rights victims and their kin in solidarity fasting and stressed the legal and humanitarian grounds for the release.

President Rodrigo Duterte had recently issued statements he would only release the political prisoners after a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The lawyers said Duterte is contradicting himself, saying it was him who promised to grant them general amnesty immediately after his election as President earlier this year. (Featured photo by Salinlahi)

Read more

Peoples’ lawyers to file attempted murder charges vs MPD

National Union of People’s Lawyer chairperson Neri Colmenares explains why they intend to file attempted murder charges against Manila Police District officers who violently dispersed protesting indigenous peoples in front of the United States embassy in Manila last October 19.

In a press conference at the University of the Philippines a day after the incident, Colmenares explained there the police actions were unwarranted and with criminal intent. Read more

Atty. Edre: Handa ang aking mga kliyente sa usapang pangkapayapaan


Panayam ng Kodao Productions kay Atty. Edre Olalia, legal consultant ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel hinggil sa lalamanin ng ikalawang pag-uusap at kahandaan ng NDFP sa pagharap sa GRP.

Oslo, Norway
October 5, 2016

Andrea Rosal: Freedom at great cost

Press Statement
7 September 2015
9:15 pm

After 18 months in jail, Andrea Rosal, worthy daughter of a worthy father, is finally and rightfully free again.

Her freedom is due to the resolute legal battle and campaign, no thanks to this government which inhumanly refuses or ignores pleas for compassion and humanitarian cries.

She has proven that all charges against her were false, pernicious. This malicious persecution has lost her precious time, cost her a child, and brought deep anguish to her family.

Would she have been subject to all this had she been moneyed and influential? Would she have been arrested had she been someone else’s daughter? It is indeed cruel injustice to incarcerate her on mere filial affiliation.

This is proof still how slow and frustrating – like traffic in EDSA – the justice system can be.

Impunity for rights violations persists because patent trumped up charges ripen into court cases that takes eons to resolve and demands tedious, cumbersome legal disentanglement.

All those responsible for her misery must be made to account and restitute the irreparable damage to her and her dead baby daughter. Else, justice will come at the right time.

Reference:

Atty. Maria Kristina Conti
NUPL Asst. SecGen for Campaigns
09175393139

Atty. Edre U. Olalia
NUPL National Secretary General
09175113373

IPT 2015: A victory of the Filipino People

IPT_11701169_10153506564716563_4927790273356520229_n
(While waiting for the verdict by the jury of the International Peoples’ Tribunal on US-Aquino governments’ crimes against the Filipino people./Photo by Jonna Baldres)

July 19, 2015
 
The Philippines Chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils) hails the conclusion of the International Peoples’ Tribunal (IPT 2015) in Washington, D.C. as it finds the US and Aquino governments guilty beyond doubt of rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
 
The 32 witnesses and several experts braved all odds amid the intensifying crisis and political repression in the Philippines to testify on record before the tribunal.
 
The wealth of data, information, facts, analyses and other evidence clearly established the factual basis of the indictment, and the culpability of respondents Defendant Benigno Simeon Aquino III and Defendant Government of the United States of America.
 
We laud the panel of international jurors, prosecutors and staff of the tribunal as well as the militant and progressive peoples of the world who showed solidarity with the Filipino people in the fight for righteousness, justice and freedom.
 
The blood of our martyrs and victims of rights violations in the Philippines are not lost with the resounding success of the tribunal.
 
The guilty verdict on Pres. Aquino and the US government goes into the annals of the historic fight of the Filipino people against US imperialism and local reaction.
 
We are one with the IPT 2015 in calling “to seek redress, to pursue justice, and to transform this oppressive, exploitative and repressive global state of affairs exemplified by the experience and plight of the Filipino people, to challenge the international “rule of law”, and to construct a global order founded on full respect for the rights of all peoples, everywhere.”
 
We intend to pursue cases of rights abuses and violations as copies of the verdict reach the Prosecutor´s Office of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Inter-American, European, African, and Asian regional courts or systems, as well as lawyers associations, human rights defenders, law schools, and human rights programs of study throughout the world.

A significant stride has been made with IPT 2015 as we march forward ever more resolutely to punish the perpetrators, render justice for the victims and end impunity in the country.###